The Nationals have worked very, very hard to throw a tantrum obnoxious enough to get the Phillies’ attention.
They knew that should they become linked to the Phillies, they would be catapulted to the national stage, with their youth, talent, pluck, and an intense rivalry to keep them there. Nats fans and employees were quick to attack the Phillies and their fans, hoping that the statements would provoke a reaction to villify their NL East counterparts.
An early 2012 series in Washington saw the “Take Back the Park” campaign come to fruition, as well as a Nationals series win, which they called a “statement,” despite the final game being played without a full umpiring crew and featuring two blown calls at third base, where the umpire was missing.
There’s been a hot sense of urgency when it comes to the Nationals worming their way into the Phillies’ crosshairs, and only after they’d established that they’d be good enough to do it. Now, they’re the constant victims, whining with every wayward pitch and running to the commissioner just because one of our starters purposefully hit their star player in the spine with a pitch for no reason.
But still, Washington Post analysts have to sit on stools and discuss whether or not the Phillies and Nationals are really rivals.
“There’s a cockiness about [the Nationals] that almost makes the team you want to plunk. For… for lack of a better term.”
“My friend… says that Nats-Phillies is one of the five best rivalries in sports right now, which I think is really absurd. I don’t know if it’s one of the five best rivalries in D.C.”
“It all starts in your heart and in your mind.”
So, yeah, I mean, I guess we can all sit here and pretend like you guys didn’t watch this rivalry get instigated and manufactured by the Nationals, desperate for relevance. I guess the commercials targeting Phillies fans specifically and the campaign to keep them out of the ballpark and the public quotes from all the former Phillies signed by the Nationals saying that the Nationals are better were all just normal, non-provocative things for a baseball team to do.
The Phillies were just minding their own business, winning the division a bunch of times, occasionally making headlines based on isolated atrocities happening in and around their stadium, and now they’re being forced to throw at Tyler Moore’s head.
For shame, Washington.
And while the motives behind the rivalry can get skewed depending on the bias in reporting them, I think we can all agree that the Nationals started it and are dumb – but also, that this is indisputably a rivalry, no matter what any man on a stool has to say about it.